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OU hosts delegates from Europe’s largest Orthodox synagogue movement for first-of-kind meeting

Officials from the Orthodox Union and United Synagogue met in person to build relationships and brainstorm solutions to communal issues.

President of the Orthodox Union Mitchel Aeder welcomes the United Synagogue delegation to OU’s new headquarters in downtown Manhattan. Credit: Courtesy.
President of the Orthodox Union Mitchel Aeder welcomes the United Synagogue delegation to OU’s new headquarters in downtown Manhattan. Credit: Courtesy.

The Orthodox Union (OU) recently hosted a delegation of 13 executives and lay leaders from the largest movement in Europe—the United Synagogue based in London, which supports 60 Orthodox Jewish communities.

The OU met with representatives from the United Synagogue, including newly appointed leaders CEO Jo Grose and COO David Collins, who started their positions in February.

This visit marked the first time that officials from both entities met in person to build relationships, collaborate and brainstorm solutions to communal issues.

OU president Mitchel Aeder delivered opening remarks welcoming the delegation to its new headquarters in downtown Manhattan before OU executives gave the representatives a tour, noting the organization’s extensive work on behalf of Jewish communities across North America.

The OU also hosted several roundtable discussions that focused on topics such as the importance of developing Torah values; cultivating women in leadership; and growing the pipeline of Jewish leaders.

They then traveled to Manhattan’s Upper East Side to meet with rabbis and community leaders at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Synagogue and the Ramaz School, where Rabbi Emeritus of Kehilath Jeshurun Rabbi Haskel Lookstein addressed the delegation. They then visited Brooklyn for a tour of the Yeshivah of Flatbush and dinner with lay leaders at the home of philanthropists Ralph and Judy Herzka.

The next day, they met with lay leaders in the home of philanthropists Avi and Becky Katz in Teaneck, N.J.; toured Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, N.J.; and visited the OU’s satellite office in New Jersey, where the delegation met with Teach NJ, a division of the OU’s Teach Coalition; and Yachad, the OU’s division dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish individuals with disabilities and their families.

“It was a pleasure to introduce Grose and Collins, as well as the entire delegation, to the important work the OU is doing, as well as show them Orthodox synagogues and schools in the area,” said Rabbi Simon Taylor, national director of OU’s community projects and partnerships. “The visit was a watershed moment for them that has the potential to change the future of the United Synagogue.”

“It only makes sense that two of the biggest institutions should collaborate to make sure we’re thinking of all possible creative solutions,” said United Synagogue’s new CEO, Jo Grose. “We really appreciate the warm welcome we received from the OU and thank them for facilitating important conversations about collaboration and global challenges in Jewish engagement. We look forward to hosting OU leaders in London soon, please G-d!”

United Synagogue delegates included president Michael Goldstein; CEO Jo Grose; COO David Collins; director of communications Richard Verber; director of fundraising strategy David Goldberg; and trustees Jacqui Zinkin, Claire Lemer, Andrew Eder, Fleurise Lewis, Saul Taylor, Karen Harris, Andrew Harris and Sarah Sultman.

For more information, contact: OrthodoxUnionPR@ou.org.

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Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union (OU), or Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY, Israel Free Spirit Birthright, Yachad and OU Press, among many other divisions and programs.
The United Synagogue is a union of British Orthodox Jewish synagogues, representing the central Orthodox movement in Judaism. With 62 congregations, comprising 40,000 members, it is the largest synagogue body in Europe.
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